Del Crandall broke in with the Boston Braves in 1949, as a fresh-faced teenager. In his second big league game he became the youngest starting catcher in MLB history at just 19 years, 62 days old.
Young Crandall hit .263 and received rave reviews for his handling of the Braves staff that boasted Hall of Famer Warren Spahn and veteran Johnny Sain. For his efforts Crandall finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to Dodger pitcher Don Newcombe.
Limited to just 79 games in 1950 due to a broken finger, Crandall was drafted into the Army during spring of 1951. He missed the next two baseball seasons as he served in the infantry and on active duty in Japan.
Crandall returned to the Braves in 1953 this time in Milwaukee. Over the next decade he proved to be one of baseball’s best backstops. From 1953-1962 he made 11 All Star teams, earned four Gold Gloves, and received MVP votes in 7 campaigns.
In 1957 he helped the Braves reach the World Series where they beat Casey Stengel’s Yankees in a 7-game thriller. The team repeated as NL champs the following season as Crandall began his best three-year run.
Each season from 1958-1960 he finished in the NL’s top-10 in WAR for position players. He earned the Gold Glove Award and MVP consideration in all three years.
A sore arm limited Crandall to just 15 games in 1961. He had a bounce-back season in ’62 posting a career-high .297 average. In 1963 he was supplanted as the starting catcher by emerging star Joe Torre. The Braves traded Crandall to San Francisco after the season in a 7-player deal.
Over the next three years Crandall played 179 games for the Giants, Pirates and Indians. By the time he retired, Crandall amassed 1,276 hits, and a career WAR of 28.1.
He later returned to Milwaukee as manager of the Brewers. Crandall’s time as a big league skipper included parts of two seasons with the Seattle Mariners. The former catcher also enjoyed a prosperous minor league coaching and managing career.
Crandall later worked as a color man on television for the White Sox and Brewers. When he passed away at age 91 in May of 2021 he was the last living member of the Boston Braves.
In the collection is this autographed government postcard signed by Crandall in 1949.
Del Crandall is worthy of HOF enshrinement because his of excellence to Baseball in every role to which he was called. He presents the Game today with exemplification of the perfect Baseball Man. Examine his career and life with this in mind, and you see that Baseball needs his presence in the Hall today as much as he deserves the honor. Del should be Elected now, in his 92nd year, regardless of the consideration schedule.
Thanks you Bill, I couldn’t agree more!
Bill Crandall, number 2 son
Absolutely agree on Del being in the HOF. There were three great catchers during his era and he was one of them. Great man!
Del deserves HOF enshrinement. One of the best defensive catchers of all time.
Lets make a push to get Del into the HOF!